Saturday, 26 October 2013

Liquid Americana Tweet Tasting

Whisky Discovery
The second Tweet Tasting with Arkwrights Whisky and Wines and The Whisky Wire and once again five blind drams were sent out to the chosen tasters. 

I do enjoy a blind tasting - I'm usually totally hopeless at them, even more so when there's very little in the way of clues about them. Still everyone was in the same boat and the only things we knew about them were that they would be American whiskies (which we assumed would mean from the USA rather than the whole of the Americas) and that they were probably stocked and sold at Arkwrights on-line store, which meant that we had a reference point to search and narrowed the field down to around one in fifty chance of getting it right!
Arkwrights Whisky and Wines
Five blind drams for the Liquid Americana at Whisky Discovery HQ
With Steve @TheWhiskyWire guiding us through the drams numbered one to five and Fran from Arkwrights @WhiskyandWines ensuring all the facts were correct we started under the #LiquidAmericana hashtag.

Whisky Discovery #149

Elijah Craig 12 Year Old (47% abv)
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Circa £32.00 70clWhisky Discovery

Bottled exclusively from a dumping of 70 barrels or less, the brand carries the name of the Rev. Elijah Craig who discovered the method of making true Kentucky Bourbon when he stored his wares in barrels that'd been charred.

I had tasted this once before as Kat had bought a bottle for her other half a while back and brought me over a sample to review as it was on my '101 List'. You can see what I thought of it then here:

So What Did I think?

Nose: Rich spicy flavours abound in the bouquet of this dram. It oozes sweet spicy maple syrup, brown sugar and treacle, vanilla essence, cloves anise and cardamon with a touch of aniseed too, before fresh mint leading to a floral note. With time some musty nutty wood notes develop! like a cup full of walnut shells

Palate: Opens sweet but the spices build quickly. Creamy vanilla with licorice and cloves, and leafy herbal note too as well as some Parma Violets

I had no idea what this was despite having tasted it once before and lamely guessed Four Roses Yellow Label! I thought it was familiar and have had a bottle of Four Roses on the shelf, so had my reasoning. However we had a winner with @DramStats guessing correctly before the reveal.
So what did the others think?
@paula_read: Sweet, toffee, a nice strong nose, bit of a nip at the same time.
@DramStats: Nose: Big vanilla, sweetcorn and aniseed balls. Nice and sweet to kick us off. Guessing this is Bourbon.
@rickfurzer: Nose: Putty, nutty and spice - a bit of rye in the mash-bill?
@mynameisgone: Nose; the more it opens the sweeter the nose becomes with a hint of oak peeking through
@thomas_speller: Palate - some white pepper and melting sugar again. Also obvious presence of vanilla again.
@dvdbloke Palate - Sweet spicy vanilla, chewy, creamy, chocolate coffee creams. more spice, and yummy.
@ansgarspeller: Palate, has a strong, warm kick to it. Nice! Spicy, vanilla, sweet, caramel, chocolate, stone fruits.... promising!

Whisky Discovery #465

Noah’s Mill NAS (57.15% abv)
Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
Circa £54.00 70clWhisky DiscoveryNoah's Mill is a bourbon produced in Bardstown, Kentucky by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers. The bourbon is aged in charred oak barrels until mature at 15 years old and then bottled by hand at 57.15% abv (114.3 proof). It was awarded a gold medal at the 2005 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

The brand is one of several small batch bourbon offerings by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers also known as the Willett Distilling Company. It is a private family owned and operated company that markets bourbon and rye whiskey.

So What Did I think?
Nose: Dusty and spicy at first and needed a good shake to wake it. There was a definite grain husk note before the minty menthol and oriental spices break through with cloves and liquorice. There's hints of varnished wood, treacle and a touch of saltiness too. Eventually it sweetened with expected vanilla then fruit too, blackened bananas. I wasn't expecting the spice to be quite so forward though 

Palate: This attacked the palate with a big spicy hit, sweet but with a touch of sourness too. It settles eventually becoming rich and creamy with lots of woody liquorice and aniseed and a spicy chili heat finish

No educated guesses here though, just silly schoolboy guesses of Knob Creek from both @dvdbloke and me. No logic behind the guess, just that we liked the sound of the name (snigger)

So what did the others think?
@dvdbloke: Nose - feels more charred to me. burnt wood, vanilla, burnt caramel.
@Andotron: Not the strongest of smells. hints of curries red cola with a floral perfume kick
@andrew1bardsley: Nose. Lots of corn again for me, but this time it's been thrown on the BBQ coals. Lots of black bits.
@EdinburghWhisky: Burnt honey and floral undertones. Took me a little while though. Think it might need a touch of aqua.
@dvdbloke: Palate - Hot, deep dark stoned fruits, vanilla, toffee (burnt), thick mouth-feel, sweet and dry!
@rodbodtoo: This is creamy (coconut cream!), sweet, a bit of char ?burnt toffee?
@mynameisgone: Palate, a big hot punch of rye spiciness cloves and cinnamon, hints of mint, oak and as you swallow the heat again

Whisky Discovery #466

Bernheim Original NAS (45% abv)
Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey
Circa £53.00 70clWhisky Discovery

In January 200 when it all began, Bernheim Original Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey was the first truly new variety of American straight whiskey introduced since Prohibition. Bernheim was also the first whiskey to use winter wheat as its primary grain creating a soft, sweet flavour and medium finish

Produced at the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky, Bernheim is aged in 'Rickhouse Y' at Heaven Hill's Nelson County facilities. Defined as a "small batch" as the Master Distillers select from 75 barrels or less to create a 'one of a kind' taste profile. The Bernheim name comes from pioneering German immigrants, brothers Isaac Wolfe and Bernard Bernheim, who with little money and big dreams, established a distillery in Louisville, Kentucky in the 19th century

As a straight whiskey, this has to meet all the same criteria as Bourbon or rye; Aged a minimum of two years in a new, charred oak barrel, distilled at less than 160 proof, and contains no colouring, flavouring or blending agents.

I was fairly certain that I was drinking a wheat whisky here, and was just about to name this correctly when @mynameisgone got in before me. I'm still taking the points anyway, and as a 'Brucie-bonus' it's also on my '101 List' This was my favourite of the three tasted so far.

So What Did I think?
Nose: Quite gentle initially and needed to be teased out. A little damp sawdust at first, followed by cloves and licorice root, not overpowering though, a more gentle approach. There are lots of soft vanilla notes amongst the a background of pine needles and floral notes. A couple of drops of water and it sweetens and parma violets were picked out.

Palate: Like the nose this started out gentle sweet creamy vanilla and coconut flavours with an undistinguishable fruit juice note too it, one of those multi-fruit tropical juices. Spicy wood flavours build with clove oil and aniseed leaving a peppery finish and a touch of menthol.

So what did the others think?
@emilymayfox: In comparison to No 1 and No 2, much more delicate on the nose. Vanilla, a hint of liquorice, stewed apples
@thomas_speller : Nose - Getting a wet cardboard box with cornflakes and mushrooms
@paula_read: Nose;Buttered caramelized popcorn, and lemon
@DramStats: Nose: Vanilla, Candy-floss, Rice Crispie squares, melted butter 
@Andotron: Tastes like salty butter with wood-chips  not that I've ever tried actually eating those ingredients
@dvdbloke: Palate - Very creamy, surprisingly smooth, custard creams, stewed apples and bananas mashed and simmering.
@rodbodtoo: Palate is very soft, somewhat oily, and mellow in a ?corn? Frosties kinda way

Whisky Discovery #467

Pikesville Supreme Straight Rye NAS (40% abv)
Straight Rye Whiskey
Circa £24.00 70clWhisky Discovery

Manufactured by Heaven Hill, makers of the mighty Rittenhouse ryes, among others, Pikesville Supreme is distilled under an old Maryland formula & matured in charred white oak casks for 4 years

Pikesville whiskey was originally distilled by L. Winand & Bro., Maryland in the late 19th centrury but prohibition killed the company, but after repeal, the brand name (and, reportedly, the recipe) was purchased by Andrew Merle. 

Pikesville Maryland Rye continued to be made in Maryland, at the Monumental Distillery (later the Majestic Distillery) in Lansdowne, but in 1982 the brand was sold to Heaven Hill, which has produced and bottled it ever since.

You can find out more at Cocktail Chronicles, but this was another 'Brucie-bonus' being on my '101 List' 

So What Did I think?
Nose: Quite a dry chalky nose, with cereal notes, ginger and dry floral notes like sniffing a box of Earl Grey teabags. There's some pencil shavings in here too along with some herbal notes - oregano and perhaps sage, and of course some creamy vanilla ties it all together.

Palate: Light bodied, light a weak fruit juice, fresh and zesty, with sweet cinnamon and vanilla, spices; coriander and fennel, slight mustiness, earthy even, at end. The sage is more pronounced on the palate and remains on the finish which has an earthy mintiness about it.

I wasn't expecting a Rye whisky, the musty earthy finish reminded me of a Buffalo Trace. This is much gentler than I would have thought a rye whisky should be, but it is nice easy drinking though.

So what did the others think?
@rodbodtoo: Nose is sweet, bright & grassy. Herbs. Sage. The sweetness has a barley sugar quality
@paula_read: Nose Peaches and oak embers...or maybe peaches on oak embers.
@mynameisgone: Nose sweet fruits with a citrus syrup drizzle,
@dvdbloke: Nose - Sweet powdery sugared vanilla, pears, sweet shops, some charred oak
@TheWhiskyWire: A box of teabags and some subtle lavender notes coming through
@BeersIveKnown dry cardboard, coriander seed, lots of cereal..a a grain whisky perchance?
@thomas_speller : Palate - you know the bbq-ed bananas with rum and brown sugar? That. But with whisky instead of rum. Sort of.
@dvdbloke: Finish - Sugared honey, Minimal fruit, Cream sticks around. A little oak tannins towards the end

Whisky Discovery #468

High West Double Rye! (46% abv)
Straight Rye Whiskey
Circa £45.00 70clWhisky Discovery

The High West Distillery is Utah’s first distillery since the 1870′s. Located at 7,000 feet above sea level in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains in Old Town Park City, Utah. The distillery and Saloon is the world’s only ski-in distillery and gastro-saloon.

Founded by prospectors in the late 1860′s, Park City became one of the richest silver mining towns in the West, and the best watering hole in Utah. 

High West Distillery and Saloon started with one man’s passion to make a great Rocky Mountain Whiskey. Proprietor and distiller David Perkins married his background as a biochemist, his love of bourbon and cooking, and his passion for the American West to bring the craft of small-batch distilling back to Utah, of all places.

This Double Rye is a marriage of two straight rye whiskies that combines the feisty properties of a high rye Two2-year-old and the saddle smooth richness of a Sixteen-year-old. The Two-year-old has a 95% rye 5% barley malt mashbill. The older rye has a "barely legal" rye mashbill of 53% rye and 37% corn. The extra age and corn provides some extra sweetness to calm the "bite" of the younger rye for a relationship that works.

High West was a distillery that featured in our 12 Blends Challenge earlier this year, with their 'Campfire' release.

So What Did I think?
Nose: This has a rich spicy sourness to it; Angostura Bitters. Herbal with Burmese Coriander and green pepper corns. Once it settles down the Vanilla notes sneak out along with a nice charred wood notes and menthol

Palate: Quite a lot going on with this one. Initially sweet, then slightly sour, aniseed and licorice, both spicy and herbal with a dry white pepper kick at the end, and finishes quite dry.

So what did the others think?

@dvdbloke: Nose - BANG! That hurt! Heavy clove, pepper, chilli, very very spicy.
@andrew1bardsley: Nose; Pepper, a little star anise. Really grassy too.
@rodbodtoo: Wow! Crazy nose: iron, herbs, fireworks, vermouth, a dry version of Grand Marnier, rust.
@ansgarspeller: Some biscuits, chocolate, vanilla, fudge, honey, anise on the palate sweet, warm, and a bit creamy, but not too much
@BeersIveKnown: Vanilla, fiery whiskey and charred barrels
@Andotron: Salty, Burney (nothing to do with Rab C Nesbitt) and hints of wood, Afterburn!!! 
@mynameisgone: Palate, surprisingly sweet at first almost liquer like, a dash of peppery heatand a pink grapefruit pith sourness

Well at the end of the evening, our third dram, Bernheim Original was my favourite. I've since revisited all of these, and have considered my initial thoughts with new notes and the result still stands. The Elijah Craig 12 is an outstanding dram and is worthy of being a good second place and running up closely behind is the High West Double Rye. At the end of the day, I'd be happy with any one of these on my shelf to enjoy, there's not a bad drop here, and my favourites might not necessarily be yours. You can always drop me a line and let me know your thoughts

and finally....
As per previous Tweet Tastings there was a great deal of tweeting going on but this post is probably far too late to tell you to search on the #LiquidAmericana hashtag on twitter for the full story. Four new Whisky Discoveries were recorded on the Liquid Log this time as the Elijah Craig was one I'd tasted before

A massive THANK YOU to Steve Rush at @TheWhiskyWire and Fran from  @WhiskyandWines for both being on hand to answer our questions as well as sending out all of the samples to us and of course the tweet tasters who were:

@TheWhiskyWire @dvdbloke @mynameisgone @frazerj @kizzsmyth @beersiveknown @rickfurzer @jalcock1982 @WhiskyDiscovery @rlemkin @TheWhiskyBoys @EdinburghWhisky @andrew1bardsley @DramStats @EmilyMayFox @rodbodtoo @andotron @paula_read @ansgarspeller @rborghma

For more information see: and

Now you too can taste these five American whiskies as those clever people at Arkwrights have put together a retail pack of these in 5cl bottles for more information check it out here

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